As noted in 2017 I found co-constructing and establishing classroom rules and expectations with students to be a successful strategy to creating a safe classroom environment. I decided to set these rules and expectations with all my classes again in 2018. However, an issue I faced with students in 2017 was significant lateness. The majority of students tended to arrive 15 to 20 minutes into the lesson. This was problematic for several reasons. Firstly, during a 50 minute lesson students were missing almost half of the lesson by not getting to class on time. While not all students were arriving late this did have a knock on effect to classroom culture. Where the on time students would muck around until their peers arrived. It made starting the lesson in a timely fashion challenging and at times frustrating as late students would arrive and disrupt the lesson or interrupt me teaching or giving instructions to the class.
I decided to find a solution to this with students in 2018 and discuss my concerns around lateness with students while we were setting expectations. We came up with 2 solutions to my concerns. 1) in each class we determined what was a reasonable amount of time to get to class after the bell (between 5-7 minutes). I then asked each class what should happen if this expectation wasn’t met. We decided together that each time students would come in quietly, write their name on the board and if it happened 3 times in a row then there would be a phone call home. If a student was late one day but on time the next they could then remove their name from the board.
I also had a discussion with the class about appropriate ways to enter the classroom if they were late for reasons beyond their control. E.g. enter quietly and wait for the appropriate moment to apologise and ask for instructions.
I have found setting these clear guidelines, expectations and consequences with all classes early on in the year has made a positive shift in terms of students generally arriving within the agreed 5-7 minute window. When students do come late and disrupt I generally ask them to try entering the room again and they remember our early conversation and come into the room quietly. Taking the time to set clear expectations with students is a useful way to overcome issues such as lateness and consequently helps students to take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour.